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What's cuter than a mama duck with her ducklings? How about firefighters rescuing ducklings and returning them to the worried mama? That's just what happened when two firefighters responded to a call... of nature. 

In a video, captured by a bystander, a mother duck is seen pacing with just one little duckling while a firefighter fiddles with a grate. It seems that the rest of the ducklings fell into a storm drain below the street. 

Each time the firefighters rescue a little feathery bundle, they take it to the mother and when she doesn't budge they go in for another look. It takes some work, but all of the little ducks were eventually rescued. Once they were safely out, the heroes wrapped the whole family up and relocated them to a nearby pond. 


The tiny bug with the unmistakable red coloring and black dots is one of the few insects that people are actually excited to see. The ladybug is universally seen around the world as a bringer of luck.

Incredible video shot by Rainer Bergomaz and posted by PCO Imaging allows us to see these little ladies in a whole new light. You can watch as the red protective shells split apart and the wings unfurl from underneath to begin flapping and lifting the small insect into the air. 

17551 LeaveWildlife  Baby Deer

We humans have bleeding hearts. We see what looks like an orphaned baby animal, and we immediately want to help it. But the reality is that wild animal wee ones rarely need human assistance. Perhaps it's because human babies are so vulnerable that it's almost unfathomable to us that other species don't hover over their babies 24/7. But the truth is that being left alone, even at a very young age, is an important developmental step for many species.

There's a variety of reasons why animals leave their offspring. Turtles do not need parental care to survive, and many species that are hunted as prey, like deer and rabbits, leave their babies to avoid drawing the attention of predators. Many times, if you see the baby, the mom may be hiding nearby where you can't see her. 

17551 LeaveWildlife Chirping BirdsNot only could the mother still be alive and well, and adequately caring for the baby, there are a number of other reasons why you shouldn't interfere with wildlife. The young could imprint on human caregivers and feel unnaturally comfortable around people, which could be detrimental to their survival in the wild.

Humans also cannot teach wild animals everything they need to know to survive on their own or feed them a proper diet like the mother would. Plus, the babies can carry diseases that are harmful to humans and any domestic animals in the home. And if those reasons don't deter you, it is actually illegal to raise wildlife without a proper permit.

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How to Spot an Orphan

So how can you tell if the furry/feathery/scaly baby is actually in need of help or just waiting for mom to come home with dinner? According to the Wildlife Medical Clinic at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, there are five telltale signs that a wildlife baby needs help. 

17551 LeaveWildlife Baby Squirrel1. Is the baby crying? Babies that feel safe and well fed will not make noises, so as not to attract predators. If they are making a lot of noise, chances are that they have been orphaned.

2. Are there bugs on the baby? Seeing lots of insects on a baby means that mom isn't around to take care of and groom the baby. 

3. Is the baby cold? If you see a wildlife baby shivering, it is most likely without a parent to keep it warm.

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4. Is the baby dehydrated? Young animals tend to have little fur or feathers, so if they're dehydrated, you'll be able to see their wrinkled skin.

5. Is the baby injured? If the baby is bleeding or unable to move properly, it can benefit from human help, even if mom is around.

If you find a baby that you truly believe needs assistance, call your local wildlife rehabilitator. These clinics, centers and individuals have the knowledge and permits to properly care for orphaned and injured wildlife. So the next time you find a rabbit's nest in your backyard or see a baby bird by itself on a walk, definitely keep an eye on it. But nine times out of 10 you should leave it be!

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17908 giant panda header

It's a big win in the world of conservation when an animal or plant species has bounced back from extinction enough to no longer be considered endangered, and the giant panda has officially reached that status. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently took the pandas off its endangered list and classified them as "vulnerable" instead. For many conservationists, however, the decision was rushed. 

The good news is that since 2000 the number of giant pandas in China has grown from 1,100 to 1,864, with 422 of them in captivity. There are also now 67 protected panda reserves, with two-thirds of wild pandas living in these reserves. This is all thanks to the decades of conservation efforts made by the Chinese government. 

17908 panda eatingleavesThe problem, as China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda conservationist Zhang Hemin has expressed, is that this decision may be premature. He and other conservationists worry that continued efforts and funding may slowly disappear, which could be harmful to further population growth in the wild, and potentially cause the population growth to stop or reverse.

"A severely fragmented natural habitat still threatens the lives of pandas; genetic transfer between different populations will improve, but is still not satisfactory," Zhang said in a report released after the IUCN made its announcement. "Climate change is widely expected to have an adverse effect on the bamboo forests, which provide both their food and their home. And there is still a lot to be done in both protection and management terms."

Shi Xiaogang, of the Wolong National Nature Reserve in southwestern Sichuan province, China's main panda conservation center, said it was positive that China's efforts had been recognized, "but as conservators, we know that the situation of the wild panda is still very risky."  


What would you do if you could have a baby panda? How about 15 baby pandas? Would you send them to kindergarten and become a loving, doting panda mommy?

Well, we may not get access to baby pandas anytime soon here. But we can see what it would be like with these adorable photos of some black and white fuzz balls who got to go to kindergarten for the first time, and it is a WHOLE other level of cute.

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China holds a ceremony each year where the newest baby pandas graduate into kindergarten. They get lined up to pose for pictures that are adorable enough to make you forget all about your other baby animal obsessions.

17005-these-15-baby-panda-kindergarteners-will-make-your-day-2Photo Credit: Chengdu Research Center

So, why are the tiny bears all lined up? These 15 baby pandas are finally ready to leave their breeding center nursery! Giant pandas are endangered (there are an estimated 1,800 giant pandas left in the wild), and the Chengdu Research Base is focused on research and breeding to help with conservation. Since opening the center they have bred 172 baby pandas, including these 15 cuties.

17005-these-15-baby-panda-kindergarteners-will-make-your-day-3Photo Credit: Chengdu Research Center

Congratulations to the class of 2016!